Monthly Archives: December 2008

Hablo Espanol?

My daughter, L, is four years six months.  When we lived in Illinois, for about a minute, I enrolled her in a Spanish immersion class run by a foreign language school specifically for children.  During the 45 minute, Mommy & Me style class, she was invited through song and snack to parrot the teacher and speak Spanish.  By the end of the series, her Spanish sounded more like words and she did better when I went to the bathroom – evidence that it was time to move to the next level.  Unfortunately, it was also time for us to move to Texas.

This school, called Language Stars, was a commercial enterprise but it totally worked.  The songs were all traditional children songs replaced with lessons on big vs small, hot vs cold, simple terms that children can understand.  We got lessons to take home.  I would post them on the refrigerator and use them during the week – I’d point to her hand and say “mano” and ask her to repeat.  Sometimes L would, sometimes not.  Did it help?  I don’t know.  I think it made it okay to have fun in the class, and of course L had no idea that I don’t speak actually Spanish.  Or any other language besides English.

Learning a second language was a struggle for me.  I got mediocre grades in the class.  No matter how much I studied the best I could ever do was a B.  I just don’t have the mind for memory.  My husband was luckier and excelled in his French studies (and so much more).  If she is anything like me, L is in big trouble.  Now, I want to tell you that this is all about her future and being bilingual will open so many doors for her, etc.  While this is definitely true, I confess that I also worry about the competition in public school.  Let’s face it.  The Asian kids are already being tutored in math at her age and will continue to do so through high school.  Unless she’s an Einstein in hiding (possible, not probable), she’ll likely feel intimidated by the competition (I would!).  I want to protect her, and speaking a second language is a good way to arm her with smarts early.   And what I have been told again and again is that the earlier a child learns a language the easier it is for them.  We are getting dangerously close to the end of Lillian’s prime language learning time.

Language Stars is only in Illinois.  I passed on a couple of Spanish immersion preschools and picked a Montessori close to the house.  Dallas has an International School where she can take a 1 hour class in French or Spanish.  Of course, we would have to pay.

And this is the rub.  Our financial situation is, let’s just say, less than stellar.  We are facing a redesign of our budget to do more with less.  We are also facing having to pay for a larger chunk of her current tuition at Montessori due to the economic slowdown and a certain family member no longer being able to help with tuition (we were grateful for what we got and J and I understand the situation completely).  We are readjusting all over the place.  Should we put ourselves out even more and spend the money on the class, thus feeling better that her brain is being developed at this important time before we run out of time, or just let it go and if she struggles with language then she does (and maybe she won’t)?  Am I being weak-minded by worrying about how she will compete in highschool or smartly preparing her for the future?  What would you do?

Wax On, Wax Off

This post is about bikini waxing, or rather, not waxing.  I couldn’t find another way to introduce the topic that didn’t sound forced – so there you go.

During the summer, I go to my wax specialist every 3 weeks while doing my own maintenance in between.  I guess you can say I am fairly self-conscious of this body “feature,” being of Russian descent.  Nuff said.  I have tried Nair, even the extra strong variety.  It still takes forever to begin working, doesn’t work completely and I end up with a horrible, uncomfortable rash as the hair grows back in.  But that’s a lot of money for a year-round treatment.  Totally worth it in the summer when we go to the pool 2 times a week, but in the winter when our child wants to go swimming normally I just bow out.

Recently, though, J invited me to the hot tub with him after a work out and I couldn’t go ‘cuz I was totally grown in.  But I wasn’t happy about it.

When J and I sit in the gym’s hot tub, it is the one place where our daughter can’t interrupt us.  Fifteen minutes of conversation all our own – our special time.

So the dilemma is – how can I continue to take a winter break from waxing and still take a dunk in the tub?  (I once wore J’s swim trunks over my bathing suit but that just screamed “I HAVEN’T SHAVED IN AGES!”  I was embarrassed by the obviousness of it.)  What do you do when you need to wear a suit in a pinch and haven’t been properly groomed?  Any bathing suit companies that are good for this?

To Give or To Hoard?

Modelling a Swimsuit

Modelling a Swimsuit

I buy my 4 year-old-daughter (we’ll call her L) nice clothing.  Not the nicest, but stylish and pretty.  But I don’t just buy something because it will look cute on her – I also buy so I can sell it later.

It began when we lived in Illinois for a (cold) spell, the moms group I joined had a major resale event, selling every child item you can imagine.  It happened to coincide with our move to Dallas, so I sold almost all of L’s clothing I was holding on to – from her birth to her just-grown-out-of size 3T.  It was a LOT of clothing, a lot of work, but I made bank!  I never knew hand-me-downs could be so lucrative.  I thought people just gave them away.

When I got to Dallas, I found a private resale business that works much like the one in Illinois.  They hold a huge event twice a year in my city (Spring and Fall).  I organize my clothing and they organize the logistics.  Three days after the sale, I get my check.  Getting the clothes entered online, labeled, checked for stains and hung correctly (you wouldn’t believe the emails I get about the right hangers to use) is time consuming.  However, the lure of the cash keeps me going.  When I sort through the piles of t-shirts, dresses and skirts, I look like a Hanna Barbara cartoon character with dollar signs in my eyes.  Recently I bought two dresses from Land’s End and got pissed when I saw grease stains on the front after their first wash.  My husband said, “She can still wear them,” and I said, “But I won’t be able to sell them!”  Obsession is too big a word, but certainly I am overtaken by the competitive spirit of the sale.  Can I get $10 for this Polo dress she only wore once?  Will they notice the yellow mark on the back of the Osh Kosh t-shirt sleeve?  What will people pay for a Target brand?  I am a goal oriented person, and the entire affair feeds into this desire to start, work on and finish a task with success.  Besides, I get a couple hundred dollars that I get to spend on, you guessed it, more clothing!

Right now, I have a pile of out-grown clothes waiting to be inspected and sorted.  I have winter things that can’t be put into the next Spring sale.  That means perfectly good coats, sweat pants and shoes will sit in my closet till next August.  Therein lies my dilemma.  We have needy people in my county.  We have a woman’s shelter that collects clothing for children, not to mention the postcard I get every two weeks from various charities looking for donated items or the bag hung on my door where I just stuff it and leave it on my porch.  I don’t even have to call.  At this difficult time, when needs are growing and giving is slowing, is it right to hold onto that adorable plaid Old Navy coat that I KNOW I can get at least $12 for next year when some little girl could really use it?  I give the stained clothing (wearable but not sellable) to charity.  So, I’m giving them the not-good-enough stuff?  When did I become haughty?

So, what do I do?  Do I give away the nice, winter-appropriate things because it is the right thing to do?  Or do I hoard them for my own needs and just give whatever I was already planning to give?  Do I have another option?  Help me resolve this problem – it is getting cold outside and no one is getting anything until I figure this one out.  Least of all me.

UPDATE: I appreciate all of the comments.  To answer the most mentioned plan, the tax write-off, I don’t own my home and we haven’t found tax write-offs to do much for our bottom line (that doesn’t keep us from doing them when appropriate, however).  After considering the advice given, I have decided to give away the warm clothing to charity but keep the toys given to my daughter that she hasn’t opened yet and use them for gifts for classmates (they are from her birthday and she doesn’t even know they exist).  This way, I am saving money by not having to buy gifts and doing something good for others at the same time.  Thanks for saving me from a year of feeling guilty by holding on to those clothes!

Not the Response I Was Looking for, Redux

My marriage is in a bit of a rut.  Nothing inescapable, nothing worrisome, but on track toward problems.  Our evening habit is: put child to bed, turn on television to something neither of us is interested in, put computers on our respective laps to surf social networking sites, and drink cheap wine until one of us decides it is time to go to bed.  Night after night.  Once and a while we get a babysitter and go out, and it is nice.  But also expensive and we don’t have the cash for that kind of event to get us out of our rut.

I suggested to my husband (we’ll call him J) that we need to come up with something we can do together.  A hobby or a sport – used to be golf until he hurt his shoulder and I don’t play well enough to be at the driving range without his encouragement.  (We also played Scrabble, years ago, until I surreptitiously studied a Scrabble book and whipped J’s butt.  I admitted my lying and then we both started reading the book.  By that point, whomever was behind in points would simply quit playing , and that just got stupid.)  J has fishing, which doesn’t interest me, and I have politics, which isn’t much his bag, either (at least, not the organized kind).  Thus, the rut.

“Think of something we can do together,” I told him, figuring if J came up with it, he would be more likely to participate in it.  He agreed.

A week later, J starts out a sentence with a funny grin on his face, like he knows what he is about to say is crazy.

“I thought of something we can do together,” J says.  “How about going to the shooting range?  You can learn to use a shotgun.”

Um, okay.  Not exactly the kind of “together” activity I was thinking of.  Basically, a random activity.  Sort of.

See, J thinks that our society is going to decend into chaos pretty soon, what with the financial crisis, health care crisis and general fear for survival these days.  We have been preparing by stock piling food, batteries, flashlights, etc.  In the event of riots, J would like to have a shot gun.  I would like to NOT have one.  That is the impasse we have been at – no fighting, just a difference of opinion.

Now he wants to take me out to shoot guns.  As a date, apparently.  He’s done it before, says it is fun.  Kind of odd, a bit scary.  But interesting?

What do you think?  Should I take my husband up on his offer, simply because he thought of it – you know, made the effort?  Or should I pass and then make an equally insane suggestion, like going out for a late-night pedicure?

(Why “Redux”?  Because the first version wasn’t exactly family friendly.  I mean, my family.  Same issue though, without the snark.)

UPDATE:  Given the overwhelming response (from 5 people, two from the previous post I deleted), I am going to go for it!  I will write a new post about the experience once I go.  Thanks for the support!